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Pietro D'Abano, Marco Polo e Giovanni da Montecorvino

Francesco Bottin

Abstract


Peter of Abano likely met Marco Polo in Venice sometime during the years 1300-1303. Peter asks Marco Polo information about a star of the antarctic region which had a sack-like form in the description of the arab astronomer al-Bumasar. Marco Polo witnesses that in the antarctic pole is visible a star which has the light of piece of a cloud and a large tail (magna cauda). Polo confirms his observation of the star drawing a picture of it. He reports also the altitude of the star in the southern hemisphere measured by eye (in apparentia lancea militis), while the arctic pole was invisible. Polos observations of the star are confirmed in the Conciliator, where Peter quotes widely passages of the first letter from India sent by the franciscan John of Montecorvino (frater Iohannes Cordelarius), that Peter received in the same days. Thanks to his account Peter of Abano recollects the first attempt to describe the Southern Cross.

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